Coffee on my back patio sets the stage for most days. A joyous, raucous concert of rising and falling bird song delights me. Squirrels travel and chatter along the overhead highway of interlaced oak branches that bracket a view of the western mountains. I meditate and reflect in those moments trying to block out the list of “to-dos” that attempt to squander away my morning peace. It is in those precious always too brief moments that my spirit revels in the beauty of life, the fullness of the my blessings and the treasure of family and friends.

Life inevitably unwinds us into busyness. Those early moments when I claim joy as my halo, my crown of identity, allow me to walk through the day with a sense of transcendence, a calm sense of sanctuary even when assaulted with trials and unforeseen challenges. As one who tends to live passionately, establishing joy as my framework early in the day keeps me in balance, prevents breakdowns or emotional faceplants. I’m choosing to create a place of peace about me…in my home, in my car, in the space that surrounds me. It is very difficult to be unhappy, unsettled, overwhelmed when peace and joy have settled into my whole being.

Grey clouds of depression and discouragement inevitably will threaten. I wish I could say that I have perfected the morning routine of claiming joy, brushing away the insidious thoughts that steal away my peace. It is like so many things in life that require discipline. It requires purposeful practice. On cold and rainy days, a cozy place on my living room sofa with my Bible open on my lap offers the same opportunity to choose joy rather than fussing, peace rather than fretting. I sometimes forget, rush into the day full charge ahead. Danger looms. Sometimes I can muscle through on my own strength. It is exhausting.

Then comes another morning fresh and new…another day to choose. I choose JOY.